My labor started on a Friday night in May while most people were getting ready for their Memorial Day weekend. I was already a week late and had been drinking lots of “blue-cohash tea”, so I was not mistaken in thinking that tonight would be the night. I had been going to sleep pretty early all week so that I would be prepared for the “Oh my God, this-is-it!” night.
When 4:00 p.m. came along, I felt what can best be described as menstrual cramps, and I started to mentally prepare myself. By 7:00 p.m., the contractions were about 20 minutes apart and lasting around 15 seconds. After eating a high-carbohydrates dinner, I was sure that this was “it”, so I called my midwife and gave her the details. She told me to take a warm bath, relax and keep her updated.
Over the next several hours things progressed nicely. By 10:00 p.m. the contractions were five minutes apart and lasting about a minute each. Since I was only a town or two away from the birthing center, I wasn’t too worried about arriving on time. The midwife and I agreed to meet there around 11 p.m.
I had gone to an eight-week intense birthing class that focused on the Bradley Method, and had psyched up for a completely natural birth. Although this was my first child I was completely confident that I would “rise to the occasion” and look good doing it. So freshly showered, dressed and with my "face on," I took off for the birthing center. There the attendant asked me if I was the midwife. I thought, “Are you nuts? I’m the one in labor!” So after a brief introduction to the staff on duty that night, I was examined by my midwife, Samantha, and to my surprise I was told that I was only 4 cm.! I almost passed out. To compound things, she told me to relax, because it looked like we were heading for a long night.
I continued my labor at the center, after changing into a gown and resting against a bed. I had prepared a “heat sock", by filling a long sock with uncooked rice and dropping a few drops of lavendar oil in to give it a nice scent. Then I'd tied off one end and heated the sock in a microwave until it was comfortably hot. I was feeling a lot of pressure in my back but when my labor partner massaged the heat sock up and down my back it was wonderful… for a while.
Soon I felt I couldn't get comfortable. It was time for the hot tub. AAHHH…. now this felt good. “This is going to be a breeze”, I said to myself. I sayed there for about an hour and calmly dealt with the contractions, sipping juice in-between.
All of a sudden I felt a POP! I told my doula and she and the midwife confirmed that my water had broken. I thought again, “How convenient! No mess. This is going to be a breeze.” That was the last time I said that. I now know the meaning of the term “coming on like ganbusters!”
I went from calm to a mess in about ten minutes. First I threw up. Then I couldn't handle the contractions in the tub. I could feel myself starting to panic. “Oh my God, what have I done?” Everyone reassured me that I was doing “great” and I kept thinking, “I bet they say that to all the girls.” I was in a lot of pain. It seems that the hot tub progressed my labor quickly. I had gone from 4 to 8 cm. in about 45 minutes. Hence, the vomit. Next it was off to the shower stall. This, too worked for a little while, about an hour. I used one of the techniques learned in class, to hang on your partner. I let the shower beat down on my back while hanging all my weight on my partner during the contractions. Needless to say we all got wet. It was then that I really started to “lose it”. I started telling my mother and aunt that “I couldn’t do this!” and “I needed help!” I could see the sympathy in my mother’s eyes, she'd gone through this three times herself and reassured me that I was dong fine and that I COULD do this!
Soon I was telling everyone that I had to push! It’s true what they say about knowing when to push. Up until that moment, I hadn't had any urges to push. But by God, I DID now! After trying a few unsuccessful positions I climbed onto the king-sized bed, and with my labor partner supporting me from behind I proceeded to begin the two-and-a-half-hour pushing phase.
Now let me just say that everyone in that room was so vital. When I told people who was going to be with me during the labor I received mixed emotions and opinions. Some thought it was wonderful while others, including my husband (unfortunately stationed overseas and unable to attend, though he called about 20 times during the labor), thought it sounded more like a cocktail party. In hindsight, I don’t know what I would have done if they hadn't been there. My mother was there for moral support, my aunt stood in as a wonderful Bradley/labor partner and the doula and midwife were the “professionals”. So there I was in a room full of women, all pulling together to help me bring my baby into this world. And that’s exactly what happened.
After about two hours of intense pushing and lots of primal sounds I didn’t even know I was capable of, out she came. She was so clean and unmarked I thought she had been bathed. They gave her to me immediately and as I held her on my belly I pushed out the placenta. I continued to gaze in complete awe at her, even as they stiched up my second degree tear (no episiotomy). She was momentarily taken away for a quick inspection and when she returned I was amazed to find out that I had given birth to a nine-pound, two ounce baby. Al-natural! And I lived to tell the tale. I nursed her right away and have been nursing her since.
She has grown so quickly that I feel as though I just gave birth to her last month even though it's already been eight months. In conclusion, to all those out there who would like to have a natural birth but are questioning your ability, you can do it! Everyone should do what is best for them and the baby, but don’t let anyone scare you with horrible birth stories. Childbirth should be felt and experienced. As hard as it is sometimes, don’t let people take this away from you with promises of easing your pain in exchange for your handing all control over to them. Every thing has its pros and cons, even childbirth. Become well versed on the subject and weigh all the options. I read “The Birth Book” by William & Martha Sears and have continued on to “The Baby Book” by the same authors. Since then Mommy and Daddy are doing fine and continuning their goal of caring for Baby Madeline.
Good Luck! Nanette